Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New rat genus discovered in the birthplace of the theory of evolution

Date:
September 20, 2013
Source:
University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science
Summary:
A prominent tuft of spiny hair on the back, a white tail tip and three pairs of teats represent the unique set of characteristics describing a new genus of rat which has been discovered in the Moluccan province of Indonesia. This region had a profound influence on the British Naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace who independently developed the theory of evolution alongside Charles Darwin.

One hundred years after the death of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, an international team of zoologists has discovered a new genus of mammal in the Halmahera Island in Indonesia.
Credit: University of Copenhagen

A prominent tuft of spiny hair on the back, a white tail tip and three pairs of teats represent the unique set of characteristics describing a new genus of rat which has been discovered in the Moluccan province of Indonesia. This region had a profound influence on the British Naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace who independently developed the theory of evolution alongside Charles Darwin. The international team of zoologists was led by the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense in Indonesia and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen

Related Articles


One hundred years after the death of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, an international team of zoologists has discovered a new genus of mammal in the Halmahera Island in Indonesia. It is located in Wallacea, an Eastern Indonesian region named after the British Naturalist himself. The team was surprised to find the new endemic rodent close to the locality of Boki Mekot, a mountainous area under severe ecological threat due to mining and deforestation.

The species is only known in this locality and is named Halmaheramys bokimekot. Project leader Pierre-Henri Fabre from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate states:

"This new rodent highlights the large amount of unknown biodiversity in this Wallacean region and the importance of its conservation. It constitutes a valuable addition to our knowledge of the Wallacean biodiversity and much remains to be learned about mammalian biodiversity across this region. Zoologists must continue to explore this area in order to discover and describe new species in this highly diverse, but also threatened region."

Halmaheramys bokimekot is a terrestrial spiny rat of medium body size with brownish grey fur on its back and a greyish white belly. Together with its other characteristics it represents a unique set of features that has never been reported before in the Moluccas.

The region that inspired Wallace

It is clear that the region had a profound influence of Wallace's thinking as it was from the Moluccan province of Indonesia that Wallace wrote his famous letter about natural selection and evolutionary theory to Charles Darwin. The two naturalists both published their findings in 1858.

The unique nature of the plants and animals found within the region and the large floral and faunal differences to the neighboring region of Australia, later inspired Wallace to define a zoogeographical boundary dividing the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. This is known as the Wallace line.

New rat reveals a rare migration event

"The Halmaheramys discovery supports Wallace's idea of an important faunal breakup in this region. Most of the species on the island of Halmahera reflect eastern origins, but our genetic analysis revealed a western origin of the new rat genus. That reflects the unique transition zone found in the Indo-Pacific, and warrants much greater scientific investigation," says Pierre-Henri Fabre.

Last year he and colleagues from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate provided an update of Wallace's zoogeographical world map from 1876 based on modern technology such as DNA analysis and hundreds of thousands of species records. The study showed that in spite of lacking modern techniques Wallace's zoogeographical boundaries of the world were remarkably accurately.

"Such a remarkable island setting inspired one of the greatest biologists of all time, and if Sir Alfred Russell Wallace were alive today he would surely be excited by the prospect of further conservation and biodiversity study within the Moluccas," says Pierre-Henri Fabre.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fabre P.H., Pag่s M., Musser G.G., Fitriana Y.S., Fjeldsๅ J., Jennings A., J๘nsson K.A., Kennedy J., Michaux J., Semiadi G., Supriatna N., & Helgen K. A new genus of rodent from the Wallacea (Rodentia: Muridae: Murinae: Rattini) and its implication for biogeography and Indo-Pacific Rattini systematics.. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol.169(2)

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science. "New rat genus discovered in the birthplace of the theory of evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094631.htm>.
University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science. (2013, September 20). New rat genus discovered in the birthplace of the theory of evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094631.htm
University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science. "New rat genus discovered in the birthplace of the theory of evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094631.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins